Amazon, along with many other tech companies as partners, launched the Voice Interoperability Initiative for smart devices that will allow a single device to use multiple wake-words and access different services based on the wake word used. Among the companies present on the list are many important names like Microsft, MediaTek, Baidu, Tencent, Orange, and Spotify. If the initiative is successful, it will allow one device (most notably, a smart speaker) to have more than one wake word and use more than one voice service/assistant.
This will allow the user to access services and skills from different assistants based on the wake-word used. For example, a smart speaker can use Amazon Alexa if you use ‘Hei Alexa!’ or Cortana if it’s wake command is pronounced. Normally you would have to buy different devices to use different voice assistants, but this would allow more than one to be accessible from the same device. It may seem something trivial, but making sure that a single device is compatible with so many AI assistants requires a standard protocol and closer hardware compatibility.
It may take a while until the first products developed under the Voice Interoperability Initiative are launched, but with so many hardware and software partners, it may actually succeed. If it does, we can expect better and cheaper smart speakers on the market, even from Chinese companies. Just don’t expect to have Baidu’s AI assistant in the US.